Incline Village declines domestic partner insurance |

Incline Village declines domestic partner insurance

Kevin MacMillan
Nevada Appeal News Service

INCLINE VILLAGE — The Incline Village General Improvement District of Trustees might revisit its decision to stop providing health insurance to domestic partners of district employees.

Wednesday, IVGID board Chairman Ted Fuller and trustees Gene Brockman and John Bohn voted in favor of rescinding benefits for domestic partners, while trustees Chuck Weinberger and Bea Epstein voted to keep benefits available for domestic partners.

A day after the board’s vote, trustees were still divided.

On Thursday, Fuller defended his positive vote to rescind the insurance benefits: “Two reasons. One, it was an expense factor, and two, we were providing a benefit that you don’t have control over; it could be abused by anyone who lives with someone,” Fuller said.

According to IVGID financial research, the move could save the district about $1,500 in benefits expenses, the estimated amount the district would pay through the end of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2009. The district is trying to cut hundreds of thousands from its budget; it is looking to cut 5 percent from its budget for the next fiscal year.

The question came before the board at a trustees meeting last August, not long after the district’s insurance provider ” St. Mary’s Preferred Health Insurance ” decided to offer health insurance benefits to domestic partners.

At that meeting, Epstein, Weinberger and former trustee Bob Wolf outvoted Bohn and Brockman to begin offering benefits to domestic partners.

At Wednesday’s meeting, another vote took place on Bohn’s request, which reversed last year’s decision.

“We’re all elected to hold this community’s assets to trust. I just don’t think this community supports (supplying benefits to domestic partners), and we have to represent our constituents,” said Bohn, adding that he felt the current policy could be abused, such as if a roommate of a district employee attempted to enroll.

Brockman explained his reasoning to vote twice to forego benefits for domestic partners: “I’m firmly convinced that’s the way to go ” if there’s a legal marriage involved, then the spouse is due the benefits,” Brockman said. “I was opposed to this, and I still am opposed to this.”

Epstein explained her stance: “All employees have the same health benefits, and I still feel that way,” Epstein said. “There’s a line between us making a moral judgment and an ethical judgment. I think we can make an ethical judgment here without being moralistic about people choosing who they want to marry.”

Bea Epstein, who voted at Wednesday’s board meeting to keep benefits for domestic partners, requested Thursday that Fuller add the matter to the agenda for the board’s next meeting on March 11. No formal agenda has been set.

“I think the board made a mistake,” Epstein said in a Thursday phone interview. “I think there has been insufficient discussion on this issue.”

Weinberger also commented on the issue.

“There’s a lot of people in this country who do not want gay and lesbian couples to get married ” the question is do we want to treat our employees fairly?” said Weinberger. “There’s never been any case of abuse before, and I’m not aware of any attempt to abuse the policy.”